On the Origin of The American Accent

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posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:07 PM
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America first began to be colonized by English speaking people in the 17th century. Since that time English has grown to become the de facto language of the USA. I'm sure you've noticed that Americans and Brits sound completely different. This thread will help explain why.

Part 1: Frozen in Time
When the British began to colonize North America the English accent sort of 'froze' in the colonies. So as the English accent had begun to change back in Britain, America's isolation caused our accent to change very little. Due to this, the modern American accent is closer to how Shakespeare would have sounded than the modern British accent is.

Part 2: Contact
American accents on the East Coast, and in New England especially, sound noticeably similar to the British accent than does the rest of America. Why? Because these place had more contact with England while the British accent was changing. They began to change their accents just like the British.

Part 3: Native Language
Americans adopted many words from Native American languages and languages of immigrants that had moved to America. This accounts for many of the word differences between Americans an Brits. Cookie, barbecue, rodeo, gopher, racoon, and moose are only the beginning of all the words American's had adopted from other languages.

Part 4: Americanisms
The creation of some words deemed 'Americanisms' that are often attributed to Americans were in fact first used in Britain. These words fell out of usage when the accent in England began to change, but lived on in American colonies. Trash instead of rubbish, Fall instead of Autumn, I think you get the point. Some of these words were preserved in America and eventually brought back to England. These include hire, quit, I guess, etcetera.

Part 5: Bad Grammar
The American of the past had a tendency to use nouns as verbs, such as interview, advocate, corner, and torch. These are now common parts of American English. Some words with American origin were formed by altering existing words. Some of the words created this way include sundae, phony, buddy, and pesky.




This concludes my thread on the origin of American English. Hope you learned something.




posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:20 PM
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reply to post by Nosred
 


Well, i learned what you believe.

Anything else, for someone who might want to follow up? Links? Sources?



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:26 PM
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Wow, good stuff! I always wondered about this. Linguistics is a very interesting and complicated subject, one I would like to study but don't have the time to do so. So thanks for the quick introduction!



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:29 PM
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posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:30 PM
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Where I live in Dorset, in Devon and Cornwall, the locals tend to roll their Rs not unlike the way Americans do. I assume (you touched on it in your post) that this is because those settling the New World were predominantly form those areas.

It's crazy how the accents of a few now lives on in over 200 million, crazy!!

Nice thread, kiwi



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:31 PM
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Have you never thought it could be the other way around? That the English accent has stayed the same and the Americans have developed their own?
Where is your proof that Shakespeare had a more American sounding accent than an English one?



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:37 PM
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reply to post by youjokers
 


America was settled during the period that Early Modern English was used. American English is more similar to Early Modern English than British English is. Shakespeare was from the time of Early Modern English. I think you can add two and two together.

en.wikipedia.org...

[edit on 5-9-2010 by Nosred]



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:39 PM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 


Yeah I meant to go more into that. Somehow I must have overlooked it though while I was writing. Oh, well.

Glad you liked it.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:42 PM
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This is kind of interesting, but have you just sort of skimmed Wikipedia and just made the rest up?



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:43 PM
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Originally posted by Nosred
reply to post by kiwifoot
 


Yeah I meant to go more into that. Somehow I must have overlooked it though while I was writing. Oh, well.

Glad you liked it.


No worries, it was more of a question really!!

You're not the only one forgetting stuff, I forgot your Star n flag bro!!



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:44 PM
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reply to post by Kram09
 


Where did I make anything up? This is all true to my knowledge.

Yes, I did get some info from Wikipedia.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:44 PM
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The isolation causing "freezing" idea does not hold water for me. I would propose it was the opposite and due to integration of people of varyious accents who spoke a native language other than English. There's no good reason to suppose an accent would entirely "freeze". They should both evolve in mutual isolation.

If you listen to the accent in places like Minnesota, they it sounds mixed with a Swedish accent. In the midwest, it probably averaged-out with German and others. In south, I don't know.

I had noticed East-coast seems a bit more to resemble the general British accent more, yes, but it is still very, very different.

I also notice that accents have changed since my grandparents' time. If you listen to older movies or any radio recoded from the time, they speak differently. Much of it sounds a bit more British.

Britian, being as relatively small as it is, has a variety of accents.

The evolution of accents never really stops. I suspect if you time-traveled 200 to 300 years in the future, people would sound different yet again.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:47 PM
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Well, I disagree with the frozen in time part -

If you notice the British colonies also employ a more british like accent - We have hundreds of years there, as well as thousands of miles.

I believe the Californian "accent" has become the standard bearer for English. When you call a service number, regardless of where you are in the states, the automated voice
tends to be free of regional drawl or inflection, like a Commifornian. I believe this is the case because of T.V and film, California was for a long time the place were English was exported from: to: the rest of the world. Furthermore, people in T.V and Film (actors, anchors, announcers) pay attention to speech because they need to enunciate clearly
in order to be effective narrators. As a result a very dry, inflection free form of the language was developed and distributed, anyone who could understand english could
comprehend because any regional aspects were intentionally removed, a standardization compelled by the communicative/entertainment industry.

Thats my theory, part of it anyways

Thanks OP interesting line of discussion



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:48 PM
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reply to post by EnlightenUp
 


It did evolve a lot. It's just that the way we sound is closer to how British people used to sound 300 plus years ago.

To quote Wikipedia


On the other hand, North American English has undergone some sound changes not found in other varieties of English speech:[citation needed]

The merger of /ɑ/ and /ɒ/, making father and bother rhyme.[citation needed]This change is nearly universal in North American English, occurring almost everywhere except for parts of eastern New England, hence the Boston accent.[citation needed]
The merger of /ɒ/ and /ɔ/.[citation needed] This is the so-called cot-caught merger, where cot and caught are homophones. This change has occurred in eastern New England, in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, and from the Great Plains westward.[citation needed]
For speakers who do not merge caught and cot: The replacement of the cot vowel with the caught vowel before voiceless fricatives (as in cloth, off [which is found in some old-fashioned varieties of RP]), as well as before /ŋ/ (as in strong, long), usually in gone, often in on, and irregularly before /ɡ/ (log, hog, dog, fog [which is not found in British English at all]).
The replacement of the lot vowel with the strut vowel in most utterances of the words was, of, from, what and in many utterances of the words everybody, nobody, somebody, anybody; the word because has either /ʌ/ or /ɔ/;[7] want has normally /ɔ/ or /ɑ/, sometimes /ʌ/.[8]
Vowel merger before intervocalic /ɹ/. Which vowels are affected varies between dialects, but the Mary-marry-merry, nearer-mirror, and hurry-furry mergers are all widespread. Another such change is the laxing of /e/, /i/ and /u/ to /ɛ/, /ɪ/ and /ʊ/ before /ɹ/, causing pronunciations like [pɛɹ], [pɪɹ] and [pjʊɹ] for pair, peer and pure. The resulting sound [ʊɹ] is often further reduced to [ɝ], especially after palatals, so that cure, pure, mature and sure rhyme with fir.
Dropping of /j/ is more extensive than in RP. In most North American accents, /j/ is dropped after all alveolar and interdental consonant, so that new, duke, Tuesday, resume are pronounced /nu/, /duk/, /tuzdeɪ/, /ɹɪzum/.
æ-tensing in environments that vary widely from accent to accent; for example, for many speakers, /æ/ is approximately realized as [eə] before nasal consonants. In some accents, particularly those from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City, [æ] and [eə] contrast sometimes, as in Yes, I can [kæn] vs. tin can [keən].
The flapping of intervocalic /t/ and /d/ to alveolar tap [ɾ] before unstressed vowels (as in butter, party) and syllabic /l/ (bottle), as well as at the end of a word or morpheme before any vowel (what else, whatever). Thus, for most speakers, pairs such as ladder/latter, metal/medal, and coating/coding are pronounced the same. For many speakers, this merger is incomplete and does not occur after /aɪ/; these speakers tend to pronounce writer with [əɪ] and rider with [aɪ]. This is a form of Canadian raising but, unlike more extreme forms of that process, does not affect /aʊ/. In some areas and idiolects, a phonemic distinction between what elsewhere become homophones through this process is maintained by vowel lengthening in the vowel preceding the formerly voiced consonant, e.g., [læ:·ɾɹ̩] for "ladder" as opposed to [læ·ɾɹ̩] for "latter".
Both intervocalic /nt/ and /n/ may be realized as [n] or [ɾ̃], rarely making winter and winner homophones. Most areas in which /nt/ is reduced to /n/, it is accompanied further by nasalization of simple post-vocalic /n/, so that V/nt/ and V/n/ remain phonemically distinct. In such cases, the preceding vowel becomes nasalized, and is followed in cases where the former /nt/ was present, by a distinct /n/. This stop-absorption by the preceding nasal /n/ does not occur when the second syllable is stressed, as in entail.
The pin-pen merger, by which [ɛ] is raised to [ɪ] before nasal consonants, making pairs like pen/pin homophonous. This merger originated in Southern American English but is now also sometimes found in parts of the Midwest and West as well, especially in people with roots in the mountainous areas of the Southeastern United States.


en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:48 PM
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reply to post by Nosred
 


Sorry, I didn't mean it like that.

What I mean is, is some of what you've posted some of your own theories and ideas?

Anyway it's an interesting subject nonetheless!

I gave you a star and flag.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:51 PM
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Interesting idea,but there are many American accents.I tend to think our language is a hodge-podge of many different languages and language dialects.Some New Englanders may speak Old English,but the same cant be said of a Louisiana Cajun,or even someone from south Florida, theres just way too many outside influences.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:51 PM
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Originally posted by Nosred
Part 4: Americanisms
The creation of some words deemed 'Americanisms' that are often attributed to Americans were in fact first used in Britain. These words fell out of usage when the accent in England began to change, but lived on in American colonies.

Nowadays you can add the word "soccer" to this list; it's gone out of use in England almost in my lifetime.

My Devon grandmother pronounced the letter "z" in the "American" way (it always puzzled me at the time), which lends support to the idea that the Devon usage had an influence.

Toynbee notes the way that exiled communities tend to hold on to cultural elements from their original home, so word usage may be part of it.

[edit on 5-9-2010 by DISRAELI]



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:51 PM
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reply to post by Kram09
 


That's all right. This is really just based on research I did so I guess it's not really my own theories.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 02:55 PM
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reply to post by stillsearchin
 


That's true. Different accents for different parts of the country are caused by where the settlers came from. In Louisiana they have a more 'French' accent. People in Boston changed their accents along with the British because they had more contact with the British than other parts of the country.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 03:05 PM
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reply to post by Nosred
 


Well Thank you. yours has been a shaft of light in the usually gloomy and hateful place that ATS has lurched towards.

Please may we have our country back NOW


Just kidding (americanism)

Have a great day.



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